Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ficus Update

     What. . . what's this? A new post? Inconceivable! Yet, here it is, and here I am, returned from the blogging dead. I have been busy with other aspects of my life recently, but a steady hail of withering criticism and hostility gentle prodding from Planted's quality control department has convinced me to get back on the wagon and whip up a new post for you, the reader, to enjoy. So without further ado, I present to you the following post!
This is exciting.

     Most of my concentration lately has been on my Ficus Benjamina, which I am attempting to keep alive here at school. Believe it or not, it's doing great! However, there were a few speed bumps along the way. I have been keeping the tree under a plastic wrap tent to increase humidity, and it has been working very well, however, mold began to be an issue early on. It was gross, so I didn't take pictures, but it was this nasty white spidery stuff that was covering the entire surface of the soil. Needless to say, I was not too happy. After scooping it off, along with the top half of the waterlogged soil, this is what things looked like:

The soil had previously been level with the top of the pot.
     It was bad. Things got better, though! I promise! A certain someone gave me the idea of replacing the now missing layer of soil with better draining, less organic, more mold-resistant sand! And voila!

Like magic! 
     I have since continued the use of the plastic wrap tent set-up, and it is now blissfully mold free. I have also put an additional covering around the lower portion of the trunk and over the moss in an attempt to ramp up the humidity even more and try and create more root development and it seems to be working. I took a peak this afternoon and saw some wonderful roots starting to branch out from the lower trunk. Hopefully I can encourage this and get some nice root-over-rock nebari action going! I may also try wrapping some of the lower branches and see if I can get some  the tree to throw out some aerial roots. Pictures of this to come!

     If we're talking about aerial roots, we're going to have to talk about the little crassula cutting i've got sitting by the microwave; it's losing it's mind! I'm starting to see some little aerial roots popping out right below the small cluster of leave on the leftmost trunk. Cursory research didn't yield much helpful information; some people say it's a good sign, some say it's a sign of stress. I think I'll just let it go and see what happens. The little guy might make an interesting little conversation piece eventually.

     Well, that's it for now, but I'll be back soon. I promise.

The gif at the top is not mine and I claim no rights to it. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Plant Update.

     The traveling plants are starting to settle in, and the've been joined by a new friend, as well! But first, the Ficus!

     The Ficus Benjamina has been doing surprisingly well in it's cardboard/plastic wrap tent (which it maliciously stole from a homeless man on S. College Road) and has lost zero leaves since the move, which is surprising for a tree with a reputation for being pissy and uncooperative when it comes to changes in location. It is not unheard of for Ficus to drop all their leaves in protest when changed from one location to another. They grow back, of course (usually), but the shock of the change in environment can sometimes upset their delicate sensibilities. Not my Ficus,  though! This one's a trooper. There's even some weird mystery sprout growing out of it. I have no idea what this might.

Probably aliens.
      The Crassula cutting is doing well, too. It will hopefully begin to put out roots here within a month or so.

Oh, boy.

Captioning brought to you by. . . these guys.

     And we are no pleased to introduce to you. . . . the cup O' moss! I put this little guy together the other day because I figured that the conditions in the dorm room, you know, dark, dank, damp. . . dark, (oh, and dingy. We've got all the D's covered.) would be perfect for moss. I planted it in a deformed cup that I made by pouring boiling water over and playing around with its shape. The rock in the middle is a bit of limestone that I found outside the dorm.

The rock sort of reminds me of a meteorite. Do you see it? No, no, you probably don't.

      Well, that's it. Until next time, dear readers. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Political Garden #1: The Future of The Nation.

     America is divided. Political vitriol is at an all time high, and civility has gone the way of Alderaan. In this time of clashing ideologies, we must, as citizens, decide which direction we want our country to follow. All the issues must be carefully weighed so as to assure the prosperity and security of our nation. Special interests will try to press their cases; we must not listen. The future of America is at stake; blindly following the party platform is no longer an option. In this crucial election, we must cast our vote based upon what what kind of leadership is best for these United States. We must look back at the values that our nation was founded on, and carry those values with us as we look toward the next four years. We must learn from those who came before us, who paved the way for this nation's success. We must go back to our roots.

     Where better to begin than with the father of our country, George Washington. It is well known that Washington was an avid cultivator of plants, especially flowering trees such as dogwoods, redbuds, and his favorite, the flowering cherry. So great was his interest, that as a young child he went out to his father's garden (Augustine was an avid gardener himself, and many historians theorize that he was young George's original inspiration) and took several cuttings from his father's prized cherry tree in order to propagate the tree and attempt to breed new cultivars. The myth that he chopped down the entire tree was simply a bastardization of the true story. This more action packed version was adopted by the continental army as propaganda and used to terrify British soldiers (it worked). After the war, the myth spread and eventually evolved into the story we know today.

As you can see, Washington's fascination with botany developed at an early age.  
     What does this have to do with the upcoming election, you may ask? My answer: everything. If we are to return to the values of the Founding Fathers, we must return to the foundation upon which they built this great nation. We must return the vision of "One nation, under Star Wars gardening, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

     Unfortunately, the current political climate is more focused on flash-in-the-pan issues like immigration, healthcare, and the economy. These issues are used to occupy voters' attentions and television screens, all the while ignoring the real problems facing the American public. Where is the outcry about the lack of gardening education in schools? Who will stand up for the conservation of endangered mosses? Why is no one talking about the current embargo on high-end Japanese tokoname pots and planters? Our country has lost its soul! This election may be our last chance to recover it and take back our freedom from the political machine.

     The choice to save America may be hard to make, however. Neither of the candidates have histories of fighting for gardening rights, nor do either of their running mates. Some have described the Honorable and Mighty 47th Vice President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, as a "vegetable", however, this is not confirmed. The closest our extensive research efforts could come to un-earthing any record of botanical involvement by any of the candidates was President Obama's admission to recreational use of marijuana (cannabis indica) as a teenager. This is viewed by gardening think-tanks as only a passing interest, however, and the President has made no mention of furthering landscape infrastructure development at all during his campaign.

Do either of them really care about the availability of hard to find Acer Palmatum cultivars? NO.

     My fellow Americans, this leaves us with a single, but difficult option. We must abolish the corrupt and ineffective political system under which we currently operate. We must cast out those false representatives who do not truly govern in the best interests of the people who elect them! So go! Tell your elected officials just what you think about the lack of responsible water-usage on Wall Street! Tell them about the 99% of gardeners across the country that are denied access to affordable plant care! Tell them that they govern for the gardeners people, by the people, and politics as usual cannot go on! Riot (please don't) in the streets! March on Washington!

     The tyranny ends now.

     I claim no rights to the images in this post. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Moss and Stone Gardens

     I just wanted to shine a quick spotlight on Moss and Stone Gardens, in Raleigh, North Carolina. I just happened to stumble across their website while plumbing the depths of the internet, and I was very impressed with the work that they do. I highly encourage you to head on over and check them out! You may not currently be in the market for a beautifully crafted shade garden, but you can still take a look at the amazing photos of their past installations. They've also got some neat facts about moss for you to feed to your brain. So eat up!

     Here's a link to their awesome gallery of moss creations. (They've got some of the sweetest container gardens ever.)

     And because I just can't stand a post without any pictures, here's some photos of mosses that I've taken myself:

     Moss is awesome.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Traveling Plants!

     Just a quick post before getting to bed; we're getting up early to head back to Wilmington. We won't be traveling alone, though! The Ficus Benjamina is coming along with us to see how it likes dorm-life. Accompanying it will be a small, already rooted cutting taken from the base of the massive trumpet jade that graces the back patio. I didn't want to take the whole thing; first off because it's just way too big, and secondly, because I don't want to risk killing the whole thing. It was a birthday present, y'know.
Time to kick ass. 
      Photos will be coming as soon as everyone is settled in- until then, buenos noches, my friends.

Putting Down a Few Roots- A First Post

     Greetings, denizens of the internet. This is my first post, so bear with me; I'm new here. As this is a sort of introductory post, it may be a bit picture heavy, so I do apologize for that. Unless of course, you like picture heavy posts, in which case I won't be apologizing for myself at all.

     I've really only gotten into plants and gardening in the last 6 months, so my experience and expertise are both limited. I am also away at school, where I have very little opportunity to indulge in growing plants due to living constraints associated with living in a cave dorm room. However, I did recently visit home, which means I was able to check up on all my plants that I left behind in the very capable hands of my family. What follows is a bit of a recap on the plants that I've acquired over the past months and how they're doing, complete with shiny photos! Several photos were, however, taken with my phone, so I do apologize for quality or possible lack thereof. Enjoy!

     The first plant I bought, the plant responsible for the madness that has followed, was a small tray of hens and chicks (Sempivervum Tectorum) that I picked up on a whim while at Home Depot one day. The tight little rosettes of these curious little plants just seemed to catch my eye, so I took them home with me and potted them up! 
I also have an unhealthy obsession with mosses, but that is a topic best left for another post!
     My original planting looked pretty, but did not last long. Remember, I was new to this whole plant thing, so planting succulents with moss didn't seem to be that far-fetched of an idea. The moss unfortunately did not last long, and I was unable to rescue it. The hens and chicks took root almost immediately, although, and they're still doing ridiculously great.
Yeah, I'd say they're hangin' in there.
      These crazy plants took off like wild fire around mid-April, and have only just started slowing down here in early October. I replaced the moss with an assortment of Crassula Perforata which you can see in the background, and that has done fantastically as well. Semps, as well as succulents in general have become one of my favorite kinds of plants, and I will always have them in my garden. Also, the Semps multiply like rabbits, so they'll be there whether I want them to or not, it's just a happy coincidence that I like them so much.  
The good ol' Bucket O' Succulents!
     Just a quick mention about the pot- it's made of spun bamboo! I got it, as well as another, at Lowes, and they make a welcome break from the standard terra-cotta. They're also biodegradable and made from renewable sources, so that's great as well!

     And onto the next plant!

     Probably tied with the hens and chicks for my favorite plant so far is my little Haworthia Fasciata. I was given one by a co-worker and fellow plant-nut who worked at a local greenhouse, however, the poor, innocent little thing succumbed to the summer heat. After an appropriate period of mourning, I went out and got another, which I have been lovingly taking care of.

It's so cool.
     If I'm being honest I really didn't rush out to get another one after the first Haworthia croaked, but after seeing this stunning blog post, I was inspired to give it another try. Here's the picture that got me all excited for Haworthia again.
Photo courtesy of And don't worry, there'll be lots of posts on bonsai and kusamono. I'm into that, too.
     Mine isn't quite that beautiful yet, but the one above has been in that pot for four years, and is itself over four years old (the blog, which is excellent, is in Spanish, so I can't be sure.) One more pic of mine, though!
Dayum, lookit those tubercles! Got me all hot and bothered.
     Speaking of bonsai. . .
     I love it. Just the idea of little trees growing in pots is cool, and when you actually see them for yourself, you realize what works of art these beautiful plants are. I have been fascinated with bonsai for quite a while, but only got around to getting myself a tree this past spring. And yes it is a tree, but it is not yet a bonsai. It probably won't be for another fifteen years or so. That's the only down side to the art. It takes. . . forever. Also, to all you bonsai experts out there, I know I am not exactly doing things by the books, but I'm just an amateur, so I make do with what I have. To any experienced bonsai enthusiast, I'm sure my little stick-in-a-pot looks like some kind of franken-bonsai, risen from the depths of their darkest nightmares, but I'm quite fond of it myself. Oh, and by the way, it's a Ficus Benjamina, which means I should probably take it inside sometime soon. But, anyways, here you go!
The stone and avocado pit were both aesthetic additions made to composition by my little brother while I've been away. I figured that they're not really causing any harm, so there they remain.  
     Over the summer I experimented with wiring and defoliating and the like, and the poor little plant has taken it all. I really hope that I can keep this little guy going, because, although I know it's ugly as all get out, and will still be even once it grows into a mature bonsai, I'm really, really fond of it. It's weird. Kind of like a child so ugly only its mother can love it. And I do, oh so much. More pictures!
More moss! You will see that the little green stuff shows up in all sorts of places in my gardening adventures. 

Gnarly, yes?
     You might be thinking, "Aidan, those roots are hideous!" You are correct! But, know this: I have a plan. I have spread the roots over the rock so that they grow out and then down. Once the time comes to re-pot this sucker, I can plant it so that it is raised up out of the ground by its roots, sort of like a mangrove tree. It's actually a kind of bonsai growing style, I believe. So there. I'm not crazy.

     Moving onward!

     Also sort of on the topic of bonsai is my little pot of Portulacaria Afra, or elephant bush. Another succulent, I'm hoping to one day turn a few of these guys into bonsai as well.
Purty neat. 
      I've seen some pretty amazing examples of Portulacaria bonsai, and a quick search shows you just how versatile it is as a material for bonsai. A bit untraditional, but that's part of why it's so cool, in my opinion. I love how people can take something you wouldn't expect to make a good bonsai and turn it into a beautiful little tree.

     If we're speaking about bonsai, we must speak of kusamono as well. The literal translation of kusamono is "grass-thing", and traditionally they are exhibited alongside of bonsai trees in a formal display known as a tokonoma (although, when displayed next to a bonsai, it is referred to as a shitakusa; kusamono are meant for individual display only). I am not an expert, however, so all the above information may possibly be incorrect. It may be best to just look it up.
     Essentially, kusamono are just plants in pots. Or special arrangements of plants in pots. It's just the Japanese way of saying it, which it makes it sound much more fancy and complicated than it really is. The point is, I wanted to try my hand at kusamono, and so I looked around for a plant/plants that I thought I could make into an aesthetically pleasing piece, as I am told is the goal of the art of kusamono. Well, I found these skimpy little guys (Asparagus Plumosus) languishing in a dank little corner of the tropical plants section of Lowes, and brought them home.

They look so sad. . .
Also, the pot on the right is another one of those nifty bamboo pots. 
     Well, with proper feeding and watering and a nice shady spot on the deck, they grew into a monster that now weighs a bajillion pounds and is well over two feet across, and getting bigger. I planted them (now it) in a large, brown earthenware pot, and I couldn't be happier with how it has turned out. My little monstrous asparagus fern is now one of my favorite plants.
The photo (taken with my phone, unfortunately) really does not do the plant justice. 
     Now, I know it has been a long post, but I have just one more plant to show you! For my birthday this past August, I was given a HUGE trumpet jade that has been styled as a bonsai. I've done a bit of research on it, and apparently it is some sort of Crassula Ovata hybrid. I think the name that I've seen associated with it most is Crassula Ovata Gollum, or Crassula Ovata Convoluta Gollum, or just Gollum Jade, or Trumpet Gollum Jade. I simply like to refer to it as my big ass Crassula.
I'm a lucky guy. 
        Because I miss my plants so much while I'm off at college, I'm thinking about taking a cutting from the jade and bringing it with me when I go back, just to see how it does. I don't want to risk the whole thing dying because the conditions in my dorm room are not exactly ideal for growing plants. However, I have heard that this particular jade is extremely hardy and can survive deep shade, which would be perfect for my lair dorm. If it does well, I may bring the whole thing with me.

     But wait! One more picture! Here's a few of the chicks from my Semps that I snipped off and potted up.
Also starring, mystery succulent! (a variety of Crassula Perforata, snatched from the big bucket O' succulents.)

     Well, that's it. A brief recap of my plant mania up to the present day. Keep one eye open while you sleep. . . . you never know when I'll post next.